To a certain degree, fear of flying is normal in children. A lot of children fear flying for the first time due to the anxiety that comes with a new experience such as riding on an airplane for the first time. Usually, after the first experience, children get over their fear of flying and in fact learn to love the experience. For some children however, their fear of flying is so intense that it is no longer something that parents can brush off as “normal.”
If your child is suffering from a fear of flying, here are some things you can do to help alleviate the fear and anxiety he experiences, and to help him learn to enjoy the experience of riding on airplanes.
- Prepare for the trip. If you are taking your child for his first airplane ride, prepare him before the trip by talking to him and showing him pictures of people he will meet on the plane such as flight attendants and pilots. You can also tell him stories about your plane rides as a child and how you enjoyed the adventure. As much as possible, avoid discussing plane crashes or showing him pictures of plane crashes, as this will only heighten his anxiety. Keep the “briefing” in a positive mood.
- Discuss the experience. If it is not the first time your child is riding on a plane and his fear is still there, it is best to discuss the experience with him and find out what aspects of the plane ride scare him. Process the experience to the best of your abilities. Pay attention to your child, keep an open mind and do not scold him. Scolding him will cause your child to shut down and back away from the discussion and you will not be able to understand why he fears riding on planes so much.
- Use distraction. Find an object that takes your child’s attention away from the actual plane ride itself. It may be best to take a “security blanket” such as your child’s favorite toy or pillow when you travel so he can hold on to it and take his mind away from his fear of flying. You may also want to play games with your child while on board the airplane to keep him busy and entertained until he falls asleep. You can also introduce him to the flight attendants and tell him that they are friends who will stay with him and take care of him during the whole trip.
- Consult a professional. Some children’s fear of flying is extreme that you may need to consult a therapist or a psychiatrist before your scheduled flight. Your doctor may prescribe a medicine that your child can take to put him to sleep or to calm him down before you ride on a plane. This may be advisable for children who have the tendency to throw a tantrum while on board the aircraft.
Before boarding an aircraft, remember to follow these suggestions so
that you can help ease your child’s fear of flying and keep him calm
during the entire trip. If you are able to follow these suggestions, the
flight will be an enjoyable experience for both you and your child, and
his future plane rides will be less and less stressful for the both of